Cold winter coops

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by missusduray, Jun 1, 2007.

  1. missusduray

    missusduray Songster

    May 20, 2007
    Northern Minnesota
    Can anyone with cold weather post pics of your coops. My DH and I know that we need a coop that is 8x10 at least in size but I dont know about overall design of it. Any cold weather tips? What about ventilation? Nest boxes? We live in Northern Minnesota and it gets really cold here. Like -40 for at least 2 weeks out of the year. Will I need electricity in there? Will I need heat lamps? We plan on insulating it. Any help and Photos would be of great help. Thanks
  2. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    It usually only gets down to -20 around here. In bitter cold or on really stormy days, the girls have enjoyed being in their house during more of the day.

    Electricity is really handy, if it's convenient for you to put it in. You may not need a heat lamp, but it gives you the option during the worst weather. You can also use it to plug in a heater for their water, instead of having to dump a frozen bowl twice a day. We built a coop like a garden shed and hung up a shop light. With a timer, it's easy to give your hens a longer day in the winter, so they continue to lay well on those short days, if you want to do that. It's also handy to see what you're doing, if you're out there in the dark. And, you can even set up a brooder out there, if you don't want to do it in your house.

    Even where winters are very cold, you need some ventilation in the winter, and a lot in the summer. We have small ventilation holes that are open year round. We put in big windows that we could have open in the summer, since our summers are hot and humid. Hinged plywood panels that you can open work just as well for ventilation. It's good to cover any opening in the coop with 1/2" hardware cloth, to keep out predators.

    Do you have chicks already?
  3. schmoo

    schmoo Songster

    May 7, 2007
    West MI.
    I live in Michigan and it gets really cold here too. I havn't had chickens in the winter yet but everything woodlandwoman says is what I would agree with.

    I would say some form of electricity is a must. We just have extention cords running in through a hole, but it works. If its -20 I can bet the birds would be happier with a heat lamp, especially at night BRrrrrrrrrrrr
  4. AK-Bird-brain

    AK-Bird-brain I gots Duckies!

    May 7, 2007
    Sterling, Alaska
    We rescued a couple of hens last winter that had frostbite so I think heat lamps are a must! Penelope our silver sea brite banty lost all of her toes as a result of being free ranged with no heat sourse by her last "caretaker".
    Our coop is insulated with foam board in the walls and we keep one heat lamp aimed at the water thats on 24/7. we also built an awning over their nest boxes and roosts with another heat lamp in it. that lamp is on a timer and is set to be on when the girls are roosting for the night (when its to cold for them to go outside for the day we leave it on) we keep a thermometer under the awning so we can make sure it stays warm enough. the awning is arched so it actually creats a warm air pocket for the girls.
    Like woodlandwoman we have the coop lights on a timer to keep them with consistant light, it really helps keep them laying. we noticed a 50% drop in eggs when it getts really cold or dark longer.
    I'll check through our photos to see if we have any of the awning so you can see what i'm babling about.
  5. chickbea

    chickbea Songster

    Jan 18, 2007
    If you possibly can get electricity to the coop, it sure is nice. Otherwise you are dealing with frozen water, doing chores in the dark, etc.; and, as everyone says, you will need to have lighting if you want to continue getting eggs.
    What breed(s) do you have? If they have large combs you may have to coat them with Vaseline or creme when it gets really nippy.
    I can't think of anything else that others haven't said already. Good luck!
  6. Queen of the Lilliputians

    Queen of the Lilliputians Songster

    Apr 5, 2007
    Everybody else pretty much covered it, but I did want to pass along a hint that a farmer friend gave us. He told us to cover the run with thick plastic/tarp in the winter. That way the girls can go outside on not-so-cold days, and have a snow-free place to run around.

  7. [​IMG]

    Here's the inside of my coop with nest boxes. On the wall to the right are the roosts. Things have changed a little as I added a small pen by the door. I use straw during the winter to help keep them warm, along with lights.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2007
  8. verthandi

    verthandi Songster

    May 18, 2007
    Central Maine here, it can get pretty cold. I have a draft proof coop, it is not insulated but it is part of my larger horse barn. I keep extra waterer and switch them out twice a day. The Polish do not care to go out when we have the deepest snow unless have a patio shoveled out for them. They do enjoy sitting in front of the door or in front of the window in the sun.

    I do leave the coop door open on sunny days. I put vasoline on their wattles if we are going to have below zero weather.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2007
  9. AK-Bird-brain

    AK-Bird-brain I gots Duckies!

    May 7, 2007
    Sterling, Alaska
    AK-Bird-Brain-Wife here, located on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska... with some photos of the chicken coop and the insulation. The coop is built 2" R-19 foam board sandwiched between two sheets of 1/2" plywood (the floor is 3/4"). My DH wired it for lights/heat, and I keep two to three heat lamps in there during the winter. He may have said this before, but I keep one red one on all the time aimed at the water to keep it from freezing. Then there is another red and one white one, on timers, for the hens. The white one is on during the "day", and the red one is on at night, to help simulate more equalized daylight hours. There's about an hour overlap, so they get a little extra heat early in the morning when it's the coldest.
    We just replaced the original roofing with zinc/aluminum sheeting to help with snow removal. Here's the coop before:
    We used the "metallic bubblewrap" to insulate the ceiling, which helps keep it cooler in the summer (it was like a greenhouse before) and warmer in the winter.
    We have a wireless sensor that transmits the inside temperature to a base we have indoors so I can monitor the temps for my girls.
    Then, in the middle of the winter, DH created a sort of awning out of the same metallic bubblewrap, and we suspended the heat lamps under it. It "lowered" the ceiling and trapped the heat in there closer to the chicken's roosts and nest boxes. [​IMG]
    I don't have a picture of that, since it's down right now... sorry. As you can see, we had a little moisture/mildew problem with the original design (I tagged it with bleach water) but now there's hardly any buildup at all.

    Here's a picture of the expansion in progress.
    We're adding a covered outdoor area to give the chickens more snow-free area (and hopefully less muddy!) and more than doubling the size of the run. We're thinking of keeping them compartmentalized, though, so we can segregate aggressive hens, or ones that aren't well if we need to. As it gets colder and we start adding back the insulation and heat sources, we'll add more photos. Hope this helps!
  10. MTchick

    MTchick Songster

    Feb 2, 2007
    Western Montana
    As I'm sure you know, the lower the ceiling, the warmer the floor. With an 8x10 coop you'll need to make it a "walk in" coop but perhaps you can make part of it have a low ceiling or elevated false floor and place the heat lamps in that section. That will warm one zone more effectively. And making it just about the right height (like 6'6", if you are 6 ft tall ) instead of 8' high will make a big difference to warmth midway up the walls.

    My neighbor actually had a super cool suggestion that we never acted on for financial reasons. If you are pouring a cement floor, you can embed a floor heating mesh pad (they make these for high-end bathrooms) into the top of the concrete. He said these units run about $100 or so, but of course he could be wrong. These will not light the shavings on fire, apparently, and I bet it is an extremely useful way to heat a coop evenly in winter.

    Here in my part of Montana we get -20 regularly in January nights, and I have friends that do not heat their coops. They just have very nicely insulated coops and cold-hardy breeds.


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